In Biblical terms, it might be considered the Redemption of the Texans.

Texans, the former pariahs of the real estate industry, the entrepreneurs whose grandiose plans precipitated a national financial crisis, are returning as prodigal sons.

With the real estate problems spreading across the Northeast bearing an eerie similarity to what began in Texas about five years ago, people in the newly troubled markets are turning for advice to those who have endured it and survived.

Now the pariahs are becoming the gurus. Texans are popping up on real estate panels at industry conferences, they are offering their services as specialists who help troubled firms, they are consulting on survival strategies and they are writing books about their experiences. Being alive to tell the tale counts for something these days.

"The best guy to tell you about what happens when you go to jail is a guy who's been there," said Michigan-based real estate investor Fred Gordon of J.G. Financial Management. "Not a college professor."

Craig Hall, for example, a Dallas-based real estate syndicator and property manager who narrowly escaped financial collapse in 1986, recently wrote a new book titled "News of My Death Was Greatly Exaggerated ... How I Survived the Texas Crash," which details his experiences and offers advice and real estate strategies for the 1990s.

Dallas real estate broker Susan Dunn Arnold is traveling the country advising companies on how to survive bad times. She has come to view invitations to speak as a barometer of impending trouble: Two years ago, she first presented her stern spiel in New England, and was later asked to visit New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

She first came to Washington six months ago and has addressed agents at Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. and Mount Vernon Realty Inc. Now, ominously enough, she is on her way this month to meet with skittish Californians.

"I've become an authority on doom and gloom," Arnold said with a laugh. "We learned to take immediate steps: cut expenses, control expenses, take a firm hand. It's not a fun situation."

Industry trade groups are reflecting the shift. When the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks puts together panels on such topics as restructuring loans that can't be repaid at the agreed-upon rates, salvaging troubled properties and finding new market niches, at least one person at the podium hails from Texas.

"Every session has at least one Texas developer participating," said the association's John Casazza. "They, better than anyone, know what works and what doesn't."

Even jobless Texans looking for work elsewhere are finding a new reception.

"It's been interesting," said Michael Inselmann, president of the Houston-based marketing firm American Metro Study. "My friends in the banking business who were out of work were {once} treated in the Northeast like bad guys on the lam. But since August or so, rather than being shunned, they are being turned to for their expertise on markets in a downturn."

The fact is, however, that while some Texas-based companies survived, many died. Nor has the market there entirely recovered. Housing starts in Houston in 1990, for example, climbed to more than double their 1987 low, but are still only one-fifth of what they were in the 1982-83 period. Land and investment property prices in Texas have generally leveled off -- but at a level sometimes as low as one-half or one-third of their worth in 1985.

Even Hall, who presented himself in his book as a survival success story, had to lay off about 100 employees in 1990, and has faced a substantial amount of foreclosure litigation in the past two years. "The truth is, it's not over in Texas" yet, Hall said.

A legacy of anger toward Texas lingers, however.

Some politicians and observers elsewhere continue to believe that while the formerly cocky Texans have suffered, they are also benefiting disproportionately from a massive taxpayer bailout of the savings and loan industry that shifted the cost of the debacle onto the shoulders of Americans elsewhere.

Cleveland State University Prof. Edward W. Hill, for example, estimated last year that based on a conservative $150 billion bailout cost, about $3,500 per person in cleanup benefits would flow to Texas, while residents of other areas would see a net outflow of cash on a per-person basis.

Hill still stands by his premise, despite the specter that the problems may grow as large and costly elsewhere in the country. He said that because of the bailout, the huge surplus of empty Texas buildings being offered at cheap rents will draw jobs and capital there rather than elsewhere in the country.

He concedes now, however, that what Texans endured may now be a preview for the rest of the country, although he doubts it will get that bad for other regions.

"They went through it first. It was a baptism by fire," he said this week.

In short, Texas is being viewed differently these days. During the mid-1980s, the problems there were viewed as distinct to Texas and the Southwest.

At first, the slowdown was blamed on the oil industry downturn that caused oil prices to fall from about $40 a barrel in 1981 to about $10 a barrel in 1986. Later, however, it became apparent that an orgy of speculative building had added to the problem and overwhelmed the market. The excess was characterized as a Texas-style aberration.

As other markets began souring, a refrain began to be heard: "Things may be bad here, but at least we're not like Texas."

Real estate syndicator Hall recalls a meeting he had in Arizona in 1989 where a top official at Phoenix-based Western Savings and Loan Association told him smugly that Arizona "would never be like Texas." But within 90 days, Hall said, Western had failed and been taken over by federal regulators. Now, Hall said, the market in Arizona is as bad as it is in Texas.

Recent events elsewhere also are strongly reminiscent of what happened there first. The ratio of delinquent real estate loans is slowly but steadily growing in a number of states, just as it did in Texas before the market collapsed.

And many of the loan practices were the same.

In his book, Hall describes the no-money-down loan he received from FirstRepublic Bank of Dallas to buy partial ownership of the Dallas Cowboys football team -- solely on the strength of his personal guarantee.

Many other entrepreneurs elsewhere, including New York developer Donald Trump, have since been revealed as having received similarly generous loan terms for their investments.

FirstRepublic Bank Corp. collapsed in 1988, and remains one of the most costly bank failures in the nation's history. Newspaper articles on the takeover of the comparably large Bank of New England, seized by federal regulators last week after incurring huge real-estate-related loan losses, referred to the Dallas bank, and said the two institutions were comparable in size.

What is happening now "is a de'ja` vu for the rest of the country," said Maxwell Drever, president of San Francisco real estate investment firm Drever Partners. "What happened to Texas is happening nationally."

But those who survived in Texas learned the hard lessons and learned them well, according to real estate industry experts around the country.

Texans have even won admiration in many corners for their tenacity, grit and determined optimism in dealing with their real estate problems. In fact, some observers said they wondered whether other parts of the country will weather their individual storms with the same aplomb.

"They do have some incredible survivors down there," Drever said. "The businesses that survived in Texas are so lean and mean that a recession is a breath of fresh air to them after the depression they've been through. I really take my hat off to them."